2009-05-26 10:22:00
Embassy Baku
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DE RUEHKB #0430/01 1461022
O 261022Z MAY 09
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 BAKU 000430 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/24/2019


Classified By: Ambassador Anne E. Derse. Reasons: 1.4 (b, d)

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 BAKU 000430


E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/24/2019


Classified By: Ambassador Anne E. Derse. Reasons: 1.4 (b, d)

1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: President Aliyev told EUCOM Commander
Craddock on May 21 that Azerbaijan's independent policies in
support of NATO, Georgia and especially on energy leave it
increasingly exposed to growing Russian and Iranian pressure.
Azerbaijan needs "serious political and security guarantees"
now to maintain its pro-Western stance, Aliyev said.
Lamenting continued European equivocation on Nabucco, he also
urged a stronger joint effort ("like in the days of the BTC")
to advance a "serious energy agenda." Saying that Azerbaijan
would "continue to contribute as much as needed" in both
military and civilian support in Afghanistan, he welcomed
General Craddock's offer of a team to come to Baku to discuss
next steps to expand Azerbaijan's contribution. END SUMMARY

2. (S/NF) EUCOM Commander General Bantz Craddock,
accompanied by the Ambassador, POLAD Katherine Canavan, Major
General Kisner (SOCEUR) and Major General Schafer met with
President Aliyev and his International Relations Advisor
Novruz Mammadov on May 21. Craddock met separately with
Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Defense Minister Safar
Abiyev the same day (septel).

3. (S/NF) General Craddock opened the discussion by
recalling that he visited Azerbaijan in 2003 with
then-Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and was impressed, upon
returning, with Azerbaijan's significant development since
then. He thanked Aliyev for Azerbaijan's contributions in
Afghanistan, for the success of the U.S. and Azerbaijan's
first bilateral military exercise, Regional Response 09, and
for Azerbaijan's participation in the ongoing NATO exercise
in Georgia.

4. (S/NF) Aliyev replied that his government has focused on
helping Azerbaijan's private sector develop, and 14 percent
growth in the non-oil sector in the first quarter of 2009 was
the best example that Azerbaijan is making proper use of its

oil wealth. He lauded the success of Azerbaijan's 2004-2008
regional development program and noted that the government
has established a comprehensive and ambitious program for the
coming five years as well, with the aim of spurring
broad-based development as soon as possible.

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Aliyev: Azerbaijan is a Reliable Partner, Under Pressure,
Needs Support
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5. (S/NF) "Time is very important in our region," Aliyev
said pointedly, "including for energy projects. If not done
in time, they become much more difficult to do." He told
General Craddock that military-to-military cooperation is
very important for Azerbaijan's security and for our
bilateral relations. Some of Azerbaijan's neighbors did not
participate in the NATO exercise in Georgia, he noted, which
"shows clearly what policies countries are pursuing." NATO
should take this into account in analyzing who are its true
partners, Aliyev said. He continued that he knew Armenia and
Kazakhstan would not participate in the exercise, at Russia's
behest; they had been the strongest supporters of Russia's
intervention in Georgia as well.

6. (S/NF) Azerbaijan, on the other hand, is open to
cooperation and independent in its policies. Azerbaijan's
participation in the exercise in Georgia was "a clear
indicator of our policy." When Russia invaded, Azerbaijan
was the first to support Georgia, as President Saakashvili
had publicly underscored during his visit to Baku this week
-- in contrast to Kazakh President Nazarbayev and Armenian
President Sargsian, who "sat with Putin and Medvedev in
Beijing denouncing" the Georgians during the crisis, Aliyev

7. (S/NF) If actions such as Azerbaijan's support for NATO
and Georgia are not taken into account by the West, "it is
unfair, and will create the impression in Azerbaijan that we
should do the same" as Armenia and Kazakhstan, Aliyev told
General Craddock. Azerbaijan's participation in Regional
Response 09 and in the recent military exercise in Georgia
"exposes us to Russian pressure." The war in Georgia showed
that Russia cares nothing about international public opinion
or international law, and also that "small countries are not

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a priority for big countries." Aliyev said he had discussed
with President Saakashvili the fact that the U.S. and Russia
are "pressing the red button, tensions are over, NATO-Russia
relations are to be restored -- while Georgia lost its land."

8. (S/NF) Aliyev said that the upshot of recent
developments in the region is that "Russia can do whatever it
wants" in the Caucasus. As a result, Aliyev said bluntly,
"we need more political and practical support to continue our
(pro-Western) policy." He underscored the need for concrete,
tangible steps, saying that "we hear statements" with respect
to support for Azerbaijan's security "but there are no
practical steps." It is the same with respect to energy, he
said. Azerbaijan's Caspian neighbors took a step back in
Prague, when Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan refused
to sign a joint statement on energy. "Judgments and
attitudes towards these countries should be based on what
they do -- denouncing Georgian aggression, refusing to
participate in the NATO exercise or to provide support on
energy," Aliyev said.

9. (S/NF) "The attitude toward them should be worse than the
attitude toward us," given Azerbaijan's support Aliyev
asserted. "It is time for us to know what the future goals
of our cooperation will be, and to see an adequate attitude
towards us based on our actions." General Craddock agreed,
noting that events in Georgia had fundamentally changed
NATO's assumption of the past 15 years that national
sovereignty is not at risk, and had created a split in NATO
that must be resolved. He asked Aliyev for his assessment of
Russian strategy in the region.

10. (S/NF) Aliyev replied that recent developments show that
the regional situation is different from that of the
mid-90's. Russia is much stronger. There is a strong push
to restore Russia's influence in the region. This effort is
succeeding, as illustrated by the three Central Asian
countries' refusal to sign an energy corridor document which
they urgently need to withstand Gazprom pressure and by
Moldova's boycotting of GUAM, Aliyev said. Moreover, Russia
is buying support, providing Kyrgystan $2 billion to close
Manas, and half a billion each to Belarus and Armenia, this
year alone. The EU, he noted wryly, is offering $600 million
over five years for the six countries engaged in the Eastern

11. (S/NF) Russian foreign policy is very active in the
region, with many bilateral visits and meetings. The West
does not match this activism. There are eight flights a day
from Azerbaijan to Russia, just as in Soviet times;
Azerbaijanis take them and visit Russia because visa issues
prevent easy travel to Europe. Growing Russian influence is
in part due to "inappropriate policy from the West to the
former Soviet republics -- first, distance, then severe and
unjustified criticism and interference in internal affairs.
This created a negative reaction." The West's apparent
assumption that its work in the FSU "is done" is wrong,
Aliyev said. Maintaining support in the region requires
"permanent work based on mutual interests and mutual
respect," especially in light of new Russian aggressiveness.

12. (S/NF) "Our neighbors are unpredictable, this has been
our reality for centuries, Azerbaijan has suffered invasions,
occupations, divisions," Aliyev said. Despite this,
"Azerbaijan shows its priorities for secular development,
integration with the West, modernization. We need support,
because Russian policy is to restore its influence." Central
Asia also needs support. It depends on foreign assistance to
survive, and will dance to the tune of whomever pays, Aliyev

-------------- --------------
Energy: Europe Feckless, Stronger Joint Effort, Serious
Agenda Key
-------------- --------------

13. (S/NF) Aliyev told Craddock that the EU's position on
energy development remains unclear. Europe "only talks"
about Nabucco and has failed to identify financing to build
it while Italy, Greece, Hungary and Bulgaria have signed up
to South Stream ("not an alternative, just an effort to
bypass Ukraine") and Germany supports North Stream. These
NATO members and U.S. allies are "acting against Western
interests to support the Russian gas monopoly." China, in
the meantime, is paying to build a pipeline east from Central

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Asia because it needs gas, Aliyev noted. European consumers
should pay for Nabucco.

14. (S/NF) There should be a serious energy agenda and
stronger bilateral cooperation today as there was in the days
of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, Aliyev urged.
Cooperative efforts should include financial institutions and
"provide political and practical support -- or Russia will
monopolize supply and dictate" to consumers. Many NATO and
EU members visit Moscow to "beg for gas," Aliyev said.
"Russia is generous now, but their plan is to encircle Europe
completely. Then they will be less generous." Azerbaijan is
the only alternative, with "the resources, the pipeline, and
the political will" to realize Nabucco. There will be no
Nabucco without Azerbaijan, he said.

15. (S/NF) Alluding to his earlier comment that timely
progress is essential to realize strategic energy projects,
Aliyev told General Craddock "the time is now to resolve"
this issue. By the end of 2009 or the first half of 2010
prospects for success or failure will be clear. He agreed
with Craddock that through a dedicated effort to buy up
European distribution networks, Russia seeks the ability to
selectively turn off energy supplies to one country at a
time. "This winter was just the beginning," Aliyev warned.
"The Europeans must be more serious. Then, Central Asian
resources will cross the Caspian."

16. (S/NF) NATO members should act in support of the West's
strategic energy agenda, not undermine it, Aliyev said. But
Turkey has blocked Azerbaijan's ability to enter the European
market for over a year, with unjustified demands on price,
volumes and transit. Azerbaijan could provide more gas today
to Greece and Bulgaria with Turkish cooperation.

17. (S/NF) General Craddock told Aliyev that Azerbaijan,
stable and self-sufficient in energy, is unique in the
region, and this should be recognized. He said he was aware
of Azerbaijan's interest in a security arrangement and
strengthening of relations and supports these goals. Aliyev
responded that a security arrangement is very important.
Azerbaijan is not covered by any security arrangement. Even
Turkey "refuses broad military cooperation or the conclusion
of a mutual support agreement." Armenia is protected by
Russia, and Georgia by NATO and the U.S.

18. (S/NF) Azerbaijan, Aliyev said, "is the only one
exposed, and exposed to both Russia and Iran. We rely only
on our own capabilities for security. We need a security
guarantee. If we implement our plan to supply gas to the
West there will be measures against us. It happened in the
mid-90's. Two weeks after the signing of the contract of the
century Russia organized a coup attempt." BTC, he
underscored, was just a regional project, as oil can be sold
anywhere. Sending gas West is a "much more serious" matter,
including in terms of the potential repercussions for
Azerbaijan. "We need serious political and security
guarantees," he repeated. Again noting his support, General
Craddock pledged to take this message back to Washington.

-------------- --------------
Azerbaijan Ready to Receive U.S. Team to Discuss Increased
Military Contribution in Afghanistan
-------------- --------------

19. (S/NF) General Craddock told Aliyev that the U.S. is
seeking additional contributions for Afghanistan and
understands Azerbaijan is interested. He offered to have a
team come to Baku to explain in more detail proposed missions
and related arrangements. Aliyev agreed that the team should
come; the GOAJ had discussed the recent U.S. request
(SEPTEL),he has given instructions and the Ministry of
Defense is ready to cooperate. Aliyev told Craddock that
Azerbaijan would "continue to contribute as much as needed,"
noting that he had sent a senior inter-ministerial delegation
to Kabul to explore with the Afghanis a broad range of
civilian support.


20. (S/NF) Given the angst in Baku over Turkey-Armenia
reconciliation and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the absence
of these topics from Aliyev's comments was notable. Instead,

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Aliyev elected to deliver with sharp focus and new urgency
his long-standing message: In the face of growing Russian
pressure, Azerbaijan needs significantly greater tangible
support, both political and practical, to assure its
security, independence and continued support for Western
policies, especially with respect to sending Caspian gas
west. Aliyev has hammered this theme consistently over the
past several years. This time, he left no doubt that changes
in the region have deepened Azerbaijan's sense of insecurity
and prompted serious re-examination as to whether the
benefits of Azerbaijan's pro-Western stance outweigh the
costs, in the absence of greater support. We believe that it
is more important than ever that the USG evaluate our
interests in strengthening relations with a Western-oriented
Azerbaijan, and provide a response to Aliyev and the GOAJ as
soon as possible. Our willingness to address issues of
crucial importance to Azerbaijan will pay benefits in terms
of Azerbaijani constructiveness on Turkey-Armenia
reconciliation/resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh, continued
support for our Eurasian energy and Afghanistan goals and
creation of a more conducive climate to encourage the reform
so important for Azerbaijan's long-term stability and